“Down the waterfall, wherever it may take me” – Robbie Williams.
“Don’t go chasing waterfalls, stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to” – TLC.
It might seem odd and even lazy of Zimbabwe to name a city (or town) “Victoria Falls”. It doesn’t quite fit with me. It is so English sounding, so touristic and so out of place that it could waltz onto a Birmingham or Sydney suburb un-noticed. Is this really just a city called “Victoria Falls”? It seems so…
I would have preferred the settlement to be called something more obscure such as Alongeego, Malobakki or Watchatkuker. Alas, the town or city nearest to the famous Victoria Falls is called simply, boringly and non Zimbabwicly, Victoria Falls. Apologies for that don’t come but solace of the highest order certainly prevailed as Russell, Malina and I checked into the lively and welcoming Shoestrings Backpackers Hostel in… you’ve guessed it… Victoria Falls City (as I call it, as Victoria Falls is a waterfall and should be separate from the settlement).
“He lives under a waterfall. Nobody can see him. Nobody can ever hear him call” – Noel Gallagher.
After leaving behind the less chartered beauty of Angola and the rip off merchants present in modern day Namibia, we landed on an Air Namibia flight from Windhoek into… Victoria Falls international airport. Again a ridiculous name for an airport in contemporary Zimbabwe.
Soon we were checking in to a 3 bed shared room for the evening at the back of Shoestrings Backpackers Hostel.
On arrival, the greetings were good. The staff cracked a few jokes about my name being similar to a former British Prime Minister. Faster than this though, we ordered our first Zambezi beers (total pride of Zimbabwe) and asked for the Wi-Fi password. The sun had already sank and the rain began to fall as talk turned to the mystic magic wonder of the waterfalls nearby.
The Wi-Fi worked, our beds all had anti-mosquito nets and the beer was cold and cost a dollar only.
I felt like I was living my age old backpacking dream again which deserted me post depression. This was a well wanted flashback from days of yore. Shoestrings is a textbook backpacking home, which reminded me instantly and shamelessly of both Green House Hostel in Foz Do Iguacu (Brazil) and Hostelling International Puerto do Iguacu (Argentina). There were some huge alarming comparisons to be made.
Foz do Iguacu / Iguazu Falls
In 2010, I visited Argentina and Brazil for the first times. One of the main sights I wanted to see was the magnificent Iguazu Falls. It is a stunning waterfall that straddles the double border, also weaving its way on the Iguazu River to Paraguay. I wanted to see both sides of the Iguazu Falls from Argentina and Brazil and I wanted to sleep on both sides too. Fast forward 10 years and I had the exact same ambition here in Africa. I wanted to see the Victoria Falls from both the Zambia side and the Zimbabwe side, as well as sleeping in both.
So it made a perfect hat-trick that I was again staying in a cheap backpackers hostel with a swimming pool, so close to the nearby waterfalls. Here are five reasons why you should aim to stay at Shoestrings Backpackers in Victoria Falls City, Zimbabwe.
1.Proximity to Victoria Falls
It took us barely twenty minutes to walk the dreamlike childrenic path down to the magic here. And I mean magic.
Where bush bucks roam, birds sing, waters pour and humans get wet. This is the magic of Victoria Falls. Do not neglect it if you are staying in this part of Zimbabwe. We saw the Victoria Falls from both sides, and stayed overnight on the Zambia side too, at the quirky Fawlty Towers hotel.
A dollar for a beer? In 2020? Yes such places really still exist. And even better is that Zambezi beer is mighty fine and I had a few cold ones from the bar here with Russell.
For non drinkers but smokers, Shisha is also available for $7 US Dollars, though I don’t smoke, I did try a puff though smoking is definitely not my thing despite having tried shisha in many countries.
Yes seriously the Wi-Fi worked here. Shock shock horror yes it’s shock shock horror. I shout myself hoarse for your supernatural powers!
4.Flip Flop Adventure
My travel friend Malina has now visited 17 countries with me, including 12 in Africa alone on a hat-trick of trips there. Here in Zimbabwe, Malina inadvertently sent her Iranian flip flops on a journey.
By mistake, Malina left her flip flops behind in our bedroom. It was only when we had already left Zimbabwe for Botswana that she realised where they were. So I contacted Andrew the manager, telling him that we would be returning to the area a few days later, but would have to pay the visa fee back into Zimbabwe. Then the flip flop adventure began!!
We spent two nights in Kasane in Botswana on a crocodile farm while the flip flops didn’t. Then we spent two nights in Livingstone in Zambia while the flip flops didn’t. On the third day in Zambia, Malina’s pink and white flip flops were delivered to our hostel, Fawlty Towers by the staff of Shoestrings Backpackers Hostel in Victoria Falls City in Zimbabwe. How is that for customer service and saving our visa price?
We were dished up a delicious breakfast from the succinct menu. Perfect grub option prior to our dander down to that there Victoria Falls. The Shoestrings Cafe serves up 6 breakfast options – I chose the Traveller’s Breakfast. It also has a good number of deli meals and snacks.
So overall a great place to stay. A special shout out to Andrew the manager for being so welcoming, the staff for brining Malina’s flip flops all the way to Zambia and the organisation of our driver to take us to Botswana overland. Here are some more photos of Shoestrings Backpackers Hostel – this is THE place to stay in Victoria Falls…
Here are the details for booking a room at the Shoestrings Backpackers Hostel in Victoria Falls City Zimbabwe :
Here are some videos from my stay at Shoestrings Backpackers Hostel in Victoria Falls City in Zimbabwe: